Meet Marijo Roiko, Microbiology Program Director at Altru Health System

MarijoRoikoDescribe your job and what you do on a day-to-day basis.

I provide leadership and technical expertise for the clinical microbiology laboratory. In the clinical microbiology laboratory, our mission is to identify etiological agents of infectious diseases and test for antibiotic resistance, as necessary. As a clinical microbiologist, I routinely interact with clinical lab scientists, clinicians, pharmacists, infection control practitioners, public health, quality assurance and administrative personnel, and industry representatives. On a given day, I might perform microscopic examinations, write a test protocol, provide guidance on culture work-up, investigate a new diagnostic test, analyze data on test performance, or provide education on diagnostic testing.

How did you get your first job out of academia?

Clinical microbiology is a pathology subspecialty and requires specific training, which is provided either “on the job” or through a post-doctoral fellowship program. I became interested in the field of clinical microbiology while in graduate school. I was fortunate to spend some time in the nearby hospital laboratory. I also attended career sessions at conferences and met with people working in the field. One of these meetings eventually led to a post-doctoral fellowship, which provided the necessary training in clinical and public health microbiology. During my last year of fellowship training, I found job openings through coworkers, professional organizations, and through professional organizations’ websites.

Tell us about your academic background (describe your science at an undergraduate level)

My undergraduate major was general biology, with an emphasis on microbiology and molecular biology. I gained laboratory experience from classes with labs and from working as a lab tech in a research lab. I also obtained a master’s degree prior to my Ph.D., which increased my interest in molecular biology.

What is one piece of advice you would give to someone looking for a job now?

It helps to have a definitive career goal. When I reached out to people working in the position that interested me, I learned so much about the field and the steps required to obtain a related position.

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